SPECIAL REPORT: 5 tests that can save your life - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: 5 tests that can save your life

Retired Army veteran Robert Lewis  - His  story was featured on News Leader 9's special report, "The 5 Tests That Could Save Your Life." Retired Army veteran Robert Lewis - His story was featured on News Leader 9's special report, "The 5 Tests That Could Save Your Life."
Radiology Oncologist, Dr. Woodrow McWilliams, III, is treating Lewis at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus. He says Lewis is fortunate that his cancer was caught early. Radiology Oncologist, Dr. Woodrow McWilliams, III, is treating Lewis at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus. He says Lewis is fortunate that his cancer was caught early.
"Prostate cancer is very common, said McWilliams, "and I think it's far too common for someone not to get screened." "Prostate cancer is very common, said McWilliams, "and I think it's far too common for someone not to get screened."
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Retired Army veteran Robert Lewis remembers his cancer diagnosis just like it was yesterday.  His doctor didn't mince words. "He said, I got some bad news for you, Lewis recalled, you do have prostate cancer, but we're going to fight it, going to treat it."

Lewis' story was featured on News Leader 9's special report, "The 5 Tests That Could Save Your Life."

The illness did not come with any glaring symptoms, but was found through a simple blood test. His physician noticed an elevation in Lewis' prostate specific antigen, or PSA. The protein is found in the bloodstream and is made by the prostate gland and prostate cancer tissue. 

Radiology Oncologist, Dr. Woodrow McWilliams, III, is treating Lewis at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus. He says Lewis is fortunate that his cancer was caught early. "His prognosis is actually quite good and he knows this." McWilliams said, "When diagnosed early stage, that means someone has multiple options available for cure. He chose to have the full dose external beam radiation treatment." 

The radiation, combined with the early diagnosis, means Lewis has a good chance of beating his cancer. Both he and his doctor are well aware of that. "Prostate cancer is very common, said McWilliams, "and I think it's far too common for someone not to get screened." Lewis concurred, saying "It's very important to get checked. If you catch it early, you know, you might have a better hold to it."

Prostate screening should begin at age 40 for men with a family history of cancer. Others can wait until they're 50. Keep in mind that more than just a blood test is required. Your doctor will also need to examine your prostate courtesy of a digital rectal exam."

Test #2: Mammogram

The second test on our list is the mammogram. It's designed to diagnose breast cancer, with the ultimate goal of catching it early.  An estimated 200,000 women will be told they have breast cancer this year, and 40,000 will die. Mammograms are recommended every one to two years for women over 40, even sooner if there's a family history of cancer.


Test #3: Diabetes

Third on the list is diabetes screening. How important is it? Endocrinologist Dr. Garry August says diabetes is a common disorder and becoming even more common. "The incidence has doubled in the last 15 years, said August, and many people walk around with Type-2 diabetes for five years before they get a diagnosis."

August says the biggest risk is to the heart. "A person who has diabetes is at the exact same risk for having a heart attack as the person who just had a heart attack and just got out of the ICU is at risk of having another one." Symptoms include constant thirst, frequent urination and blurred vision. If that sounds familiar, perhaps you should be tested for diabetes..

Test #4: Sleep Apnea

Test number four is sometimes tied to diabetes, a sleep study to check for apnea.  Patients with this disorder tend to stop breathing during sleep, often as much as 10 to 20 times a night. The constant interruption keeps them from falling into a deep sleep, leaving them exhausted.    

Apnea can shorten a person's life, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. If you snore, and your spouse would know this first hand, check with your doctor and if see if a sleep study is in your future.

Test #5: Cat Scan

Our final test, the CAT scan or MRI, is the only sure way to detect an aneurysm. Neurologist, Dr. Brent Barrow, offers a definition. "An aneurysm in the brain or anywhere in the body is simply a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel that has ballooned out that has the potential to rupture and bleed."  Barrow added, "Often times, people will get imaging studies, MRI scans or CAT Scans, other imaging for other reasons, and aneurysms can be discovered incidentally.

This may be the most crucial test, because the condition can be fatal. "When an aneurysm is ruptured, said Dr. Colin Derdeyn, a Neurologic Radiologist, there's a high likelihood that it ruptures again. And if it does rupture again, a very high likelihood that that second rupture is worse than the first and often fatal"  An existing aneurysm shows no symptoms, the problem develops when it ruptures. The best advice is to talk with your doctor about the risk.  

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